MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) — When Kalli Yaklyvich became a mom, she struggled to find child care.
“When it came down to it there were only a few centers that were really going to work for us and when I called them, all of them had waiting lists,” Yaklyvich said. “I was a little nervous about if I was going to be able to return to work or not.”
But she’s not alone.
In just eight years Marathon County lost more than 50% of its regulated child care programs. Across the state, more than 50% of people live in a child care desert.
According to experts, this shortage not only impacts families with small children, but the greater community as well.
“It’s affecting [a parent’s] career and that in turn affects the economy, businesses, so on and so forth,” said Associate Professor Dipesh Navasaria from UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.
Part of the problem is a lack of child care professionals.
“We need to keep educators in the field, and right now teachers make a lot less than dog walkers,” said early childhood advocate Rachel Giannini.
Giannini encourages people to talk to their local politicians about how they can support funding for early childhood care and education.
At a conference on Wednesday, Giannini, Navasaria and others came together to raise awareness about the lack of child care programs in Central Wisconsin Communities.